1 Corinthians 15:20-28
The second pronouncement is:
CHRIST HAS INDISPUTABLE PRIORITY
23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming
24 Then [cometh] the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
“Christ the firstfruits.” No one else arose as Jesus did. John 11:43 tells how Lazarus was raised. Jesus was there by the tomb of Lazarus, and the Bible says, “He cried with a loud voice, and said, Lazarus come forth. And Lazarus came forth.” But do you know what? Lazarus died again. He didn’t have a resurrected body; he had a resuscitated body. The same thing is true of the widow’s son, the widow of Nain. The people were actually on the way to the cemetery to bury this lad. Jesus met them on the way, and the Bible describes it for us in Luke 7:11-15:
And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people. Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.
Now Lazarus and this widow’s son both died again. They were raised from the dead, but not like Jesus was raised from the dead. As He was speaking to John on the Island of Patmos, the Lord Jesus made a comment to John as he lay at Jesus’ feet. Jesus said, “Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Revelation 1:17,18). Now that’s different. Jesus has a resurrected body, and so He could say to John, “I will never die again. I am alive forevermore.” Lazarus and the widow’s son did not have resurrected bodies. They had resuscitated bodies. And so they died again. Do you see what I mean?
We notice that Jesus is the firstfruits. In the Old Testament times, at the time of the harvest, the Jews were to bring a sheaf of grain of the first to be harvested and dedicate it to God, with the high priest’s service.
One time we were in Israel at the time of the harvest of firstfruits. We were to be at a kibbutz on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. As we came, they gave each of us a barley head to help us to understand that this was the offering of the first fruits. Well, that’s what they did in those Old Testament days, and still do.
When Jesus is called the firstfruits, that means He is the guarantee of the resurrection of all the dead. Our text says He is the firstfruits and afterwards they that are in Christ at His coming. The Greek word for “afterwards” epeitais a temporal adverb. The length is not specified, just sometime afterward, after the resurrection of Jesus, then they that are His at His coming. Paul did not know when this would occur. He did not know how long. But he knew that it would occur. It is nearly 2000 years since the resurrection of Jesus. And so far they that are His have not been resurrected, but they will be. We can be confident of that.
The apostle goes on then in the next verse to say, “Then cometh the end.” Here the Greek word for “then” eitais also a temporal adverb. It does not mean immediately. The word can very well convey a length of time from they that are Christ’s to the end.
The book of Revelation tells us how long that time is. It is 1000 years from the time of the first resurrection until the time of the second resurrection. In other words, the resurrection of them that are His until the resurrection of them that are not His.
Then the apostle says in this text, “He must reign, till all enemies are put under his feet.” Again the Bible informs us how long that reign will be. In Revelation 20 we learn that it will be 1000 years. And He shall reign on the earth for 1000 years. He must reign. It is necessary for Him to reign until the second resurrection. Now He is King by the decree of God, the Latin term is de jure. But then He will be King in His own right, functioning as King. He will be King de facto. He will be there in power and great glory. Praise God!
When He comes in power and great glory, Jesus will be identified as King of kings and Lords of lords. He will have indisputable priority. He will be first. The first fruits and then they that are Christ’s at His coming. And then comes the end.
The third pronouncement is:
CHRIST HAS INVINCIBLE VICTORY
25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
26 The last enemy [that] shall be destroyed [is] death.
27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under [him, it is] manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.
28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
All enemies will be subdued under Him. All enemies will come under His rule. “For He must reign until He hath put all enemies under His feet. And the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” Just look at verse 26 again, and let that truth bear upon your heart. “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” Praise God!
Death has been master ever since Eden. It has been dethroned by Christ because He arose from the dead. He arose from the dead with an immortal body. “Oh death, where is thy sting? Oh grave, where is thy victory?” Christ has invincible victory. The battle is won! Yes, He came, He saw, He conquered!
Look at verse 28 now. “And when all things shall be subdued unto Him.” “When” is a particle of time, a time known to God. God does not plan anything loose-endedly. He knows when it will be. He knows how things will come out. He knows who will be there. And He has given Jesus Christ invincible victory. The final victory will be when all things are under Him when all things have been subdued when death has been destroyed. What God planned from eternity past will come to pass.
The resurrection of Christ is an inescapable fact. The result is that
to reverse death that Adam brought upon us all.
CHRIST HAS INDISPUTABLE PRIORITY
for He is first to rise from the dead to live forever.
CHRIST HAS INVINCIBLE VICTORY
to put all things under His feet.